How long is a piece of string? In terms of the RoughCut 60 Second Film Challenge, it is, funnily enough 60 seconds. Scriptwriter Tom Eastwood tied that up with his film The String, which bagged top prize. We caught up with him to find out about his big, big, short film.
You may recognise Tom from his involvement in such films as Beard Envy, which is getting an airing at the English Riviera Film Festival. The String will also get a screening in the South Devon Fest – look out for it on November 7.
D&CFilm: The story is obviously based on American B-movies of the 50s, but what gave you the idea to use that genre for this film, and where does that genre fit in your favourite film types.
‘Wouldn’t it be funny if’
I write quite a lot of comedy, and my method for coming up with ideas is usually just to say ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if’ and write down all the ways I can finish that sentence. In this case, it was ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if a piece of string mutated into a giant monster and attacked a village?’
In regards to your point about where that genre fits into my favourite film types, I have a real affection for this genre and era of filmmaking, much of which falls into the ‘so bad it’s good’ category when looked at by today’s standards. Campy acting, amazing music, questionable/dated views on women and minorities, you can watch them with your friends and find them hilarious. And I like making things that make people laugh.
D&CFilm: How easy/ difficult was it to make/edit?
Tom Eastwood: More difficult than I originally envisioned. On a shoestring (cough) budget, this was also the first film I had ever directed, save for a single, unsuccessful attempt while at university.
There were moments when finding actors, costumes and locations where I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to make the film at all, and were it not for some very kind – and very patient – people, it may not have. Not to mention that I’m the one under the string costume, which was slowly falling apart over the course of filming.
Thankfully, at time of filming, Torquay was seeing the best weather it’d had in years, and there were enough fields to make it look suitably 50s.
Telling a three-act story in 60 seconds is hard
The editing was done by my good friend and fellow writer Ryan James, who did astonishingly well in giving the film an authenticity in its tribute to 50s B-movies. Telling a three-act story in 60 seconds is hard, especially without it feeling rushed or chopped together. And if The String does that successfully, a huge amount of credit goes to Ryan for that.
D&CFilm: What was it like winning (sorry that’s a bit of a ‘like duh!’ question) and what – if anything – did the judges say?
Tom Eastwood: I was floored! In my shock I yelled a word that you probably can’t print. There were some incredible films that night. Some had ingenious uses of the string theme, others looked stunning, others were hilarious. When it was The String’s turn, all I wanted was for people to laugh at the bits that I found funny when conceiving of it. So when people did laugh, all I was thinking was ‘cool, job done’. I hadn’t even considered that it could win.
I was honoured and somewhat moved by the words the judges
I was honoured and somewhat moved by the words the judges had for The String. One of the judges, Neil Fox, started talking about how the winning film captured the attention of the judges, had a lot of heart, and did a perfect job encapsulating what was great about its genre while at the same time satirising it. Of course, at the time I didn’t know the film he was talking about was mine!
D&CFilm: Future projects?
Tom Eastwood: Quite a lot in terms of writing! I hopefully am writing for two 48 hour film challenges over the coming months, because I find writing with limitations simultaneously challenging and exciting.
I can’t have too many writing projects!
In addition, I will soon be starting my Masters degree in film and television at Falmouth University (of which Neil Fox is a lecturer, amusingly) where I plan to write my first feature length script. I am also slowly but surely developing a radio series and a stageplay is also in the works. I can’t have too many writing projects!
As for directing, who knows? The reason I directed The String was that I loved the idea so much, and I hadn’t previously considered directing as a potential career path. But I’m certainly considering giving it another go.
Tom Eastwood | LinkedIn